Missouri rallies behind McClain, Howard, beats Tennessee 5–4

Despite four errors, Tigers complete comeback to take down Volunteers.

For the first time in almost three weeks, the Missouri baseball team (22–21, 5–14 SEC) won a game against a Southeastern Conference team.

The Tigers downed Tennessee (24–19, 6–13 SEC) on Friday afternoon, storming back in the eighth inning en route to a 5–4 win. It was Missouri’s first SEC victory since beating Auburn on April 9.

The Tigers opened the game with redshirt senior Reggie McClain on the mound. Before the game, McClain had not earned a win for the Tigers in over two months.

Yet on Friday, McClain dominated the Volunteers. Over the course of eight innings, the fifth-year senior struck out 12 Tennessee batters, a career high.

“I felt confident,” McClain said. “Losing is contagious, and I just wanted to set a precedent right now that we’re not going to roll over. We still have a chance to make something happen.”

However, McClain’s defense was not always behind him. The Tigers made four errors, which resulted in two Volunteer runs.

“I was just trying to control what I could control,” McClain said. “I can’t control the defense making errors, but I can control each pitch that I was throwing so that’s all I was trying to do.”

As a result, Tennessee was able to stay in the game, even taking a 4–3 lead in the seventh inning.

Despite three errors of his own, junior shortstop Ryan Howard was able to rescue the Tigers at the plate. Howard had his best game of the season at the plate, smacking four hits while driving in three runs.

In the eighth, after senior first baseman Zach Lavy tied the game with an RBI single, Howard had a choice to make.

Standing on third, the shortstop saw sophomore catcher Brett Bond tap a ground ball to Tennessee’s first baseman.

“I saw him hit the ball on the ground and before that coach told me, ‘Down angle, see the ball down, take off,’” Howard said.

Howard charged home and just managed to tap the plate with his left hand before the Tennessee catcher tagged him.

“As soon as I saw it off the bat, I got a really good jump on it and just ran as hard as I could, slid in there and was just praying that he would call me safe, because you never know if (the umpire) will get those right,” Howard said.

In the ninth, redshirt sophomore Cole Bartlett shut the door on the Volunteers, giving the Tigers the 5–4 win.

Missouri will return to face Tennessee at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Taylor Stadium. The game can be viewed on ESPNU and heard on KTGR.

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